Last Modified: Thursday, May 16, 2013 2:47 PM
In the month of May, when the hawthorn tree releases its fruit, the people of Starks rejoice.
It's not just because the fruit will soon be stewed down to make a southern delicacy — mayhaw jelly. The berries also serve as the namesake for the city’s most revered festival.
The Starks Mayhaw Festival, now in its 21st year will feature carnival rides, live music and jelly-making demonstrations and contests and will be held beginning Thursday through Saturday at the corners of La. 109 and 12 in Starks.
A representative for the Starks Mayhaw Festival said the celebration began not just as a way to honor the fruit so easily found in the area, but as a way for local organizations to raise money for their various projects throughout the year.
“We’re not a very large city, and we don’t have many businesses, so every time our churches, fire departments and schools needed to earn money for their projects, they’d have to go to the same four businesses every time. Eventually, they got together and decided if there was a festival such as this one, they’d have a chance to garner some outside money; it’s a great economic boost to our little town,” Evelyn White, Starks Mayhaw Festival Chairman said. “About the same time we were talking about starting this festival, the mayhaws were in bloom. We decided it was the one thing we had in common all over Starks, so we named it for the berries.”
The festival will kick off today at 5 p.m., with carnival rides to open from 5 to 9 p.m. A performance by Norma Hopson and Band will begin at 6:30 to be followed by a talent show at 7:30 which will be open to the public with a $10 entry fee for contestants. The night will be finished with a performance by the Calvary Apostolic Church Singers at 8:30, followed by an encore performance by the Starks Mayhaw Festival Talent Show 2013 winners at 9:30 p.m.
The festivities on Friday, begin at 3 p.m. with a kid’s bike parade, with the winners of the parade to be announced at 4 p.m. An encore performance by the Calvary apostolic Church Singers will take place at 7 p.m., and carnival rides will be open from 5 to 9 p.m.
Saturday will find the festival opening at 8:30 a.m. with the serving of biscuits topped with mayhaw jelly and freshly churned butter, followed by a mayhaw jelly-making demonstration by Carlton Gibson. The education of mayhaw growers will continue at 9:30 a.m. with a lesson on how to graft hawthorne trees. The Starks Lions Club will hold a domino tournament at 10 a.m. at the Lions Club office located at 4743 Evangeline Highway, while on the main fairgrounds a scavenger hunt and sack race will be held for children.
The day will continue at 12 p.m. with the introduction of the Starks Mayhaw Festival Queens Court, with an auction to follow at 1 p.m. A performance by Mark Reeves and Twisted X will take place at 5:30 p.m. followed by a performance by Clayton Rougeau and the Wild West Band at 7:30 p.m. Carnival rides will be open from 5 to 9 p.m.